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‘Duane & Floppy Film Festival’ returns to Des Moines

February 6, 2014

If you know what the biggest pencil in the world is ... or why the man put his car in the oven ... then you'll want to be at the Iowa Hall of Pride on Feb. 8 in Des Moines.

In response to public demand, a second showing of the film festival has been added. Showings will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The 2014 edition of the "Duane & Floppy Film Festival" contains 90 minutes worth of material from the famous central Iowa duo who entertained thousands through their daily programs on WHO-TV and personal appearances throughout the state.

In 1957, Duane Ellett was a personality on WHO radio and television. He was asked to create a puppet for Channel 13's "Pet Corner" program as a device to help children understand how to care for their pets. The multi-talented Ellett taught himself ventriloquism, carved a beagle puppet out of balsa wood ... and Floppy was born.

Article Photos

A 1970s-era publicity photo with Duane Ellett and his sidekick Floppy at the height of their popularity. When asked what breed of dog Floppy was, Ellett often said he was a “bugle” — a beagle with a big mouth.

Soon Duane & Floppy had their own daily cartoon programs, "The Floppy Show" and "Duane & Friend," as well as various weekend shows such as the "S.S. Popeye" and "Floppytown Gazette." The pair would also make as many as 200 personal appearances a year in cities and towns across Iowa, including annual performances at the Iowa State Fair that drew large crowds. Just a few weeks after celebrating their 30th anniversary in 1987, Duane Ellett died of a heart attack. For most of the last 20 years, Floppy and other puppets created by Ellett were on display at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines, quickly becoming the most sought out exhibits in the museum.

The first "Duane & Floppy Film Festival" was held in 2009. Despite adverse winter weather, more than 1,000 fans packed the historical building's auditorium for four shows. Another film festival was held the next year, with similar response. This year, in the spirit of Duane & Floppy's many personal appearances, a series of film festivals will be held in various Iowa cities and towns.

The first was held on Jan. 19 at the historic Wieting Theatre in Toledo, which was appropriate because Ellett served as master of ceremonies for the Wieting's golden anniversary event in 1962. Other film festival sites will be announced once schedules are set.

The film festivals are produced by award-winning Iowa broadcast historian Jeff Stein, who has worked with WHO television for the past six years preserving footage from the television shows. Besides material for the various film festivals, Stein has created three separate DVDs of Duane & Floppy material, including an original one-hour retrospective of the duo's long career.

The DVDs, as well as retro-style official Floppy T-shirts and vintage publicity photos, will be available for purchase at the film festival. They are also available online at and

Tickets may be purchased now at the Iowa Hall of Pride, 330 Park St., Des Moines, for $5 per person. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to support programming and exhibits at the Iowa Hall of Pride. Tickets may also be reserved by calling 515-564-8507.



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